Years ago my Grandma taught me coloring is fun, relaxing, and even therapeutic. The recent explosion in the popularity of coloring books tells me the rest of the world has figured out that she was right.
When I was a kid, I had the usual simple coloring books – Barbie, Garfield, and Rocky & Bullwinkle. I actually still have them and do occasionally indulge in a little childhood nostalgia by coloring one of the few remaining blank pages.
However, as I got older the need for a challenge and creative inspiration lead to the discovery of Dover coloring books for adults. Intricate images of botanicals, animals, geometric design (everything from Turkish tiles to stained glass windows), mandalas, and even Medieval Tapestries kept my colored pencils endlessly busy.
Not only was coloring a great stress reliever throughout college and beyond, it was something I did with my Grandma and sister. We shared coloring books, colored pencils, and the best conversations. As we sat and colored in teeny tiny spaces, we talked about everything, laughed, and had an all out wonderful time together.
We also created a few masterpieces along the way …
Both of these came from the Decorative Tile Designs coloring book. Grandma’s is on the left and mine is on the right.
When Grandma started having small strokes, we immediately saw a difference in her motor skills and speech. Yet, we still pulled out the coloring books. It turned out coloring was an amazing source of physical therapy. Holding colored pencils and having some control over where the color went made it possible for Grandma to retain a bit more dexterity. Not to mention the mental exercise of maintaing focus.
Coloring helped hold her together a little bit longer, even after dementia began to set in. Towards the end colors started going a bit outside the lines, but she was still with us – sharing laughter and stories.
One of the more meaningful things I inherited from my Grandma was her stack of coloring books. I keep them safe along with my own. Every once in a while, I’ll pull one out and color a page or two. It brings back beautiful memories and makes all my stress melt away at the same time.
At my local bookstore, what started as a small display of coloring books has grown into three entire shelves. People are flocking to it and actually buying coloring books filled with fancy shmancy designs. It makes me smile and I hope they find the same joy I do every time I open a coloring book.
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